Reproductive Citizenship: Experiences of Mothers with Disabilities in Russia
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Mothers with disabilities are often excluded from the mothering discourses due to the deeply embedded beliefs about them being unfit for this role. Russia’s reproductive policies that have been promoting higher birth rate (pronatalism) since the early 2000s serve as a backdrop for understanding the experiences of mothers with disabilities who are absent from dominant discourses. The goal of this dissertation is to explore how mothers with disabilities in Russia make meaning of their experiences in the context deeply connected to how nations employ gender and disability to define citizenship. More specifically, this dissertation seeks to explore the meanings of disability and motherhood, the practices of supports and care, and the ways mothers with disabilities claim citizenship and belonging. By using the framework of reproductive citizenship, this dissertation employs semi-structured interviews to conduct an exploratory qualitative research. Fourteen (14) interviews with mothers with disabilities in provincial Russia were conducted. Three (3) major themes emerged: ambivalent subjectivities, multi-tiered support system, and claiming spaces. The findings highlight the differential values assigned to motherhood and disability depending on the context, the cultural underpinnings of family kinship and supports, and the relational nature of belonging. Results not only further enrich the scholarship on disability in post-Soviet contexts but also provide an empirical contribution to citizenship theory and feminist disability studies.